Meager cash assistance blamed for parties falling into illicit fund raising
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The limited amounts of cash assistance provided by the government has hindered political parties’ ability to groom cadres, according to one expert.
As a result of changes introduced in 2005, government subsidies to political parties were slashed by as much as 90 percent. Today’s assistance program, which provides Rp 108 (1 US cent) for each valid vote a party obtained in the 2009 general election, is also blamed for “the parties resorting to illicit practices in garnering funds”, according to lecturer Ramlan Subekti.
“The assistance of Rp 108 for each valid vote is too small. The state should provide more facilities to political parties because they are public institutions that have a strategic role in managing the state,” Ramlan, a political science professor at Surabaya’s Airlangga University, said in a recent interview with The Jakarta Post.
In a group discussion organized by Partnership (Kemitraan) at Gadjah Mada University’s Grha Sabha Pramana auditorium in Yogyakarta, Ramlan, the General Elections Commission (KPU) deputy head for 2002-2007, proposed that the government augment the cash assistance program.
“Grooming cadres and operations to get party moving require a lot of funds,” he said.
Data at the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) indicates that based on Government Regulation No. 5/2009 on cash assistance to political parties, nine parties receive the aid from the government annually. They are the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), National Mandate Party (PAN), National Awakening Party (PKB), United Development Party (PPP), Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Democratic Party.
The winner of the 2009 general election, the Democratic Party receives the most governmental funding at Rp 2.3 billion, while Hanura gets the least at Rp 423 million.
To deal with funding shortages, political parties have cut the salaries of members at the House of Representatives (DPR) by 20 percent, according to Ramlan.
“Even this is not enough. The parties also seek funds illegally, such as by manipulating the [DPR] budget committee,” said Ramlan.
Calls increased funding also came from Bappenas’ communications and political director, R. Siliwati, who urged the government to commit to building modern political parties.
“The assistance of Rp 108 for each vote is too small when viewed from the importance of the political parties and the huge population of Indonesia,” she said.
Based on a study conducted by Bappenas, the minimal amount of public subsidies had restricted political parties in their ability to play their roles, especially in preparing cadres for public service. “Cadre building is very limited in nearly every province in Indonesia,” said Siliwati.